North Yorkshire County Council has revealed an ambition to develop a tree planting masterplan and accelerate woodland creation.
The local authority is responsible for an 8,654sq km area featuring two national parks and three areas of outstanding natural beauty.
North Yorkshire County Council will submit a bid for £150,000 to the Forestry Commission later this month to secure staff and experts’ services to shape an overall strategy for the county and identify opportunities to plant trees on the authority’s array of sites and other publicly-owned land.
North Yorkshire’s bid includes plans to plant trees in some of the county’s most deprived areas as well as creating woodlands that the public can access.
The proposed bid for the maximum grant focuses on opportunities to add to the woodland creation activity already underway in North Yorkshire through the White Rose Forest community forest partnership.
The partnership is set to see seven million trees, the equivalent of 4,900 football pitches, planted in North and West Yorkshire over the next four years.
The bid will also build on the work of the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors national parks as well as the Niddlerdale, Howardian Hills and Forest of Bowland areas of outstanding natural beauty, which are all pressing on with separate plans to increase tree coverage in their areas.
Groups responsible for the designated protected areas have supported the council’s bid and talks have been held with City of York Council to identify any cross-boundary opportunities.
It is hoped the funding will also cover the development of tree planting projects to submit for grant funding and bring forward planting projects on privately-owned land, similar to the recent scheme at the Broughton Hall estate, near Skipton, where more than 250,000 trees have been planted.
A report to a county council meeting tomorrow (Friday, July 1) states while local authorities have identified tree planting as a key part of their response to the climate change and biodiversity crises, they faced a lack of staff to develop proposals, apply for grants and organise planting.
Ahead of the meeting, the authority’s climate change executive member Councillor Greg White said while it was vital more trees were planted, it was also important the right sites and the correct varieties were selected.
He said: “Anything that helps make a successful and sustainable tree canopy in areas which cannot be used for agriculture is going to be good.”
While it has been indicated more than 50 councils could receive funding, whether North Yorkshire’s bid is likely to be determined by how much need for the funding the council’s officers can demonstrate and the level of commitment to rapidly getting planting schemes underway.
If the bid is successful, funding for the scheme will start next month.